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Recent fire events in Australia and worldwide have highlighted the importance of fire safety in high-rise apartment buildings.
The Western Australian Building Commission is coordinating a state-wide audit of cladding on high-risk buildings but says building owners, managers and occupiers also have a part to play in keeping themselves and their buildings fire safe.
The Building Commission’s Fire safety in existing apartment buildings fact sheet outlines important fire safety measures, the various parties’ maintenance obligations and where to look for further information.
“We saw the devastating consequences of the Grenfell Tower fire in London and do not want to see a similar incident occurring again,” Building Commission Acting Executive Director Ian Munns said.
“Ensuring a building’s cladding is compliant is important but there are other things building owners, managers and occupiers can do to help keep a building fire safe.
“This includes remaining vigilant about the ongoing housekeeping, maintenance and routine servicing of the building; knowing what to do in the event of a fire; and considering fire safety when refurbishment works are carried out.
“Keeping fire stairs and escape routes clear; never wedging fire doors open; ensuring smoke detection systems are always in good working order and not tampered with; and minimising the amount of combustible materials in and around the building including on balconies – these are simple measures that could potentially save lives.”
Routine servicing and any rectification or repair maintenance should be carried out by competent personnel with the relevant skills, experience and training.
Refurbishment works must comply with the Building Code of Australia and must not adversely impact the fire safety of the existing building’s occupants. Such work may require a building permit.
“Any plans to upgrade an existing building must have the safety of occupants as the first priority, over and above any aesthetic considerations,” Mr Munns said.
“The Building Commission urges building owners and managers to review the fire safety of existing buildings to confirm that previous building work has not left occupants vulnerable in the event of a fire.”
The Fire safety in existing apartment buildings fact sheet is available on the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety website at www.commerce.wa.gov.au/publications.
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